Senga Currie, Head of Care Development, Scotland, on what we can all do to support people who experience suicidal thoughts.
10 September, was World Suicide Prevention Day.
World Suicide Prevention Day was established in 2003 by the International Association of Suicide Prevention and the World Health Organisation.
The theme Creating Hope Through Action is the triennial theme from 2021 – 2023. By creating hope through action, we can signal to people experiencing suicidal thoughts that there is hope and that we care and want to support them. It also suggests that our actions, no matter how big or small, may provide hope to those who are struggling.
It is a day to remove the stigma around suicide and break down barriers, thus reducing the number of suicides and save lives.
It can also help by signposting people to what they can do to support those individuals with thoughts of suicide, giving details of various resources which can help and support.
Death by suicide must not be regarded as either acceptable or inevitable.
- 703,000 people around the world end their life every year
- Males are more likely to end their lives than females
- Suicide is 3 times higher in areas of deprivation
Suicide is preventable. Help and support are available to anyone contemplating suicide and to those who have lost a loved one to suicide. We just need to know where to look to access services.
What if I am worried about someone’s mental health?
Although you may feel awkward, it is OK to ask them if they have thoughts about ending their life. Many people feel there is a stigma about voicing such thoughts and, simply by asking them, you open a channel of communication which could save their life. Never be afraid to ask how they are feeling. By starting the conversation, they have a chance of discovering other options rather than suicide. Most people who feel suicidal do not actually want to die – they just want the situation they’re in or the way they’re feeling to stop.
How can I help if someone has said they feel suicidal?
Stay with them and support them, letting them know you are there to help by accessing help via the organisations listed below, unless of course you feel it is an emergency or they have tried to harm themselves; if that is the case, call 999.
Help and Support
The Samaritans have a self-help app where you can record how you are feeling. It can recommend self-help techniques and how to stay safe in a crisis.
They also use the acronym SHUSH.
SHUSH – active listening tips
Show you care
Use open questions
Say it back
- Chris’s House: https://chrisshouse.org/our-story/
- Mind: https://www.mind.org.uk/need-urgent-help/using-this-tool
- Age UK: https://www.ageuk.org.uk
- Papyrus – prevention of young suicide: https://www.papyrus-uk.org/
- Suicidal thoughts how to support someone: https://www.rethink.org/advice-and-information/carers-hub/suicidal-thoughts-how-to-support-someone/
- Breathing Space: https://breathingspace.scot/
- I recommend a book, The Weight of Emptiness: Comfort and Hope for the Loss of a Loved One, Patricia Elliot, written by a mother who lost her beloved son Bruce to suicide.
You can also download our Pocket Guide: Suicide Prevention below. Share it with your team and prepare them with top tips for becoming better listeners.